Notts Edge Newport at Rodney Parade
The Magpies ended their run of defeats, edging out Newport County by a single goal in a scrappy match.
It was a game of few clear-cut chances, not helped by an appalling playing surface at Rodney Parade, which made it difficult for either side to play passing football.
Notts County made a number of changes, including the return of Northern Ireland international Roy Carroll in goal and a starting spot for Genaro Snijders following Liam Noble’s suspension after his sending off in last week’s tie at home with Cambridge. Jon Stead returned from injury to partner Alan Smith up front.
The Magpies looked shaky at the back as Newport started the better of the two sides. Newport won an early corner following some good defensive work by Elliott Hewitt. The kick was taken by Tommy O’Sullivan and a scramble ensued, Alan Smith getting in a vital block before Notts got the ball clear.
Notts had their first attacking moment in the seventh minute. Some neat link up play saw Smith flick onto Jon Stead who spread the ball to Snijders but his cross was collected by keeper Joe Day.
The Magpies were lucky not to fall behind the tenth minute as a defensive mix up between Haydn Hollis and Roy Carroll saw neither deal with a long ball. The ball fell to Dean Morgan who rolled it wide of an open goal when he really should have scored.
Three minutes later Morgan was involved again for the Exiles as he beat Mike Edwards for pace but Hollis blocked well to put the ball out for a corner. O’Sullivan saw his initial kick come back out to him, whipping his cross-come-shot narrowly past the far post.
Graham Burke worked Day in the fifteenth minute as his low long-range effort was pushed around the post by the keeper.
Three minutes later Stead looked to get a shot away from the edge of the box, but slipped on the poor playing surface and it trickled through to the keeper.
On the half hour mark a corner resulted in a scramble in the Newport box and Edwards looked well positioned but was prevented from getting his shot away.
In the 38th minute Notts broke the deadlock, with more than a helping hand from the Newport defence. Blair Adams played a high ball in from the left hand side in towards Jon Stead who used his strength to make a nuisance of himself. Keeper Joe Day flapped at the ball and it fell kindly for Genaro Snijders who kept his cool to finish neatly into an open goal.
Notts went close to adding a second goal in first-half stoppage time as some neat link up play between Adams and Smith resulted in a corner. Burke took the kick and it almost fell for Smith before the Exiles defence cleared.
It was the Magpies that started the second half on top, as Wes Atkinson’s long-range shot was blocked.
A minute later, an attacking free kick from Burke quickly turned into a Newport counter as poor defending from Elliott Hewitt let Morgan in behind. The Notts right-back recovered well to get in a block in the box.
Jon Stead was on the attack in the 52nd minute as he ran forward, beating his man, but his long-range effort went well over the bar. Two minutes later he went close again as Hewitt’s ball in was met by a Stead with a side-foot volley that flew just wide of the post.
Haydn Hollis then came to the Magpies rescue with a fantastic header throwing himself in front of a shot with a vital block.
A minute later the Exiles went perilously close to drawing level. The ball came through to Souleymane Coulibaly whose poked effort beat Roy Carroll but Elliott Hewitt got back exceptionally well to clear off the line.
Newport made their first change on 57 minutes bringing on Mark Byrne in place of Owen Evans.
Morgan made his final contribution on the hour mark, as he fired high and wide from distance after some neat Newport play around the edge of the box, before being replace by Scott Boden.
Graham Burke saw his 64th minute free kick from 35 yards sail high and wide.
At the two-thirds mark, Jon Stead almost doubled Notts lead. He received the ball just inside the box and turned his defender to make space to get a shot away which was saved by Day.
Burke was the next to go close as he got on the end of an Alan Smith knock-down, as his strong half volley went wide of the post.
Newport made another change on 70 minutes with Lenell John-Lewis coming on for Matt Partridge.
Some direct play from Notts ended in another Stead chance. A long ball from Roy Carroll was flicked on by Smith, finding Stead whose attempted lob was held by a stretching Day.
Newport went on the attack as Hollis got in a vital block. Notts went on the counter, as Burke found space and shot from distance but it was pushed away by the keeper. It proved to be Burke’s last touch as he was replaced by Thierry Audel.
Notts made another change in the 81st minute as Adam Campbell came on in place of Blair Adams.
In the 83rd minute Edwards had a chance but headed Snijders’ corner harmlessly wide.
Two minutes later, Notts played some nice football as Atkinson, spread the ball wide to Audel. He played it into Cambell, who found Valencic but his effort was saved at the post by Day. Haydn Hollis headed over from the resulting corner.
With three minutes to go Notts made their final change bringing on Izale McLeod in place of Snijders.
Notts almost put the game beyond doubt in stoppage time. Adam Campbell cut inside after a Valencic ball and curled in a shot that hit the outside of the post.
Team: Carroll, Adams (Campbell 81’), Smith, Hollis, Snijders (McLeod 87’), Hewitt, Valencic, Burke (Audel 76’), Atkinson, Stead (C), Edwards.
Unused Substitutes: Loach, Amevor, Boyce, Gibson
Attendance: 4903 (391 Away)